Friday, 8 January 2016

Material or Tempii

An interesting twist on Man v machine took place on over the last couple of days. Hikaru Nakamura played a 4 game match against the chess engine Komodo. To make the match more even (and interesting) Komodo gave Nakamura some sort of odds for each game.
The first two games were pawn odds (with Nakamura playing White and Black), and they both ended in a draw. In the third game Nakamura was Black, but had an exchange head start (White gave up the a1 rook, black the b8 knight) and this also ended in a draw. In the final game Nakamrua was White, but rather than reverencing material, received 4 moves to start the game (e4,d4 and Nf3 plus whatever he wished on move 4). It turned out this was the only decisive game of the match, with the extra tempo not helping White.  In the end Komodo reached a winning rook and pawn ending, although it did take 58 moves before the engine triumphed.
So the result, although close, does prove two things. Firstly, engines are getting stronger at a faster rate than humans can improve, and secondly, a couple of free moves are nice, but if they can't be converted to material, then they end up being of very little use at all.


Anonymous said...

The key concept of "contempt" was mentioned by the broadcasters, though they were largely ignorant, though Kaufman confirmed that it played a role in driving Komodo from simply seeking equality when losing, instead seeking complications.

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